Ships before the Coast, Willem van de Velde (II), after 1670
In the 17th century painters specialized in specific genres. For instance, Willem van de Velde became a marine painter, perhaps even the most successful one ever. He portrayed large, spectacular naval battles as well as small, tranquil coastal views, like we see here. Modest commercial vessels lie still on the smooth-as-glass surface of the water. Somewhat further back in the middle ground are two warships calmly awaiting what is to come.